In addition to the Jays, I was able to see games featuring Duke, Georgetown and San Diego State and the NBA Draft prospects those teams featured. I also was treated to the show put on by Dunk City (No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast for those that don't follow the tournament), but that's a different story.
First, here is my take on the potential lottery picks.
Quote: "During the recruiting process, I knew we were getting a player that was extremely versatile, that I thought would be able to have success in a lot of different areas on the basketball court at both ends ... He's continued to progress, he's gotten better ... He's a person that can control a game in many different facets." - Georgetown head coach John Thompson III
As a possible top five pick and potential target for the Suns, Porter was the player I was most excited to see. I was counting on seeing two games of him considering his Georgetown team was a No. 2 seed taking on a lowly No. 15 seed in the FGCU Eagles. Unfortunately, Dunk City had other plans and Porter was sent home early. But I still got to see one game from Porter, and although it wasn't his best, I came away impressed.
Georgetown's public practice was one of the more boring ones that I watched on Thursday, as John Thompson III kept things simple for his team with some basic skill work. The one thing I took away from it was that Porter has really put in a lot of work on his shot. He was a 22.6 percent 3-point shooter a year ago as a freshman, but he knocked down almost every shot he took in practice, from all over the floor.
In the Hoyas' game against FGCU, I got to see less of the shooting and more of everything else. The bad part is Porter had one of his worst shooting percentages of the season, going just 5-17 from the field and 2-6 from downtown for 13 points. However, these numbers are way below his averages of 48.0 and 42.2 percent and I'm writing this off as a just bad game, albeit at the worst possible time. He even missed a couple bunnies that normally are an easy two.
There was one great sequence in the second half where it looked like he was finally coming alive. He threw down a nice dunk, hit a 3-pointer on the next possession, made a nice pass for an assist on the possession after that and then broke up an alley-oop on the other end. It was an impressive sequence showing off a variety of Porter's skills, but just when it looked like he was taking over, the Hoyas stopped going to him.
However, despite his offensive struggles, he was still able to put up a double-double and I was very impressed with his rebounding ability. He has great length, good hands and a nose for the ball, which are essential traits in any great rebounder. He pulled down nine of his 11 boards in the first half, and although he only had two offensive rebounds in the game, he was in position for several more had he gotten better bounces off the rim. Rebounding should continue to be a plus for him at the next level.
He didn't really impact the game in a big way in any other area, although he did make some nice passes on offense and make a few plays on defense.
Overall, Porter appears to be a very versatile prospect who can contribute in multiple ways. I don't think he's a franchise changer or even a number one option. However, I do think he is going to be a very solid starter and perhaps an All-Star one day. Tayshaun Prince, Nicolas Batum and Andre Iguodala are players I would compare him to.
Final Thoughts: Porter didn't have his best game, but based on what I've seen I would be in favor of the Suns drafting him somewhere in the 4-8 range. He's not our franchise player, but he is a great piece to have on the team as the rebuild continues.
Quote: "Mason has just developed; he's worked really hard since last spring to develop a better offensive game inside, and he's got good touch, and one of the key things he does out there is pass ... he's had a really great year for us." - Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski
Plumlee is a prospect the Suns might have an interest in if they receive a late lottery pick from the Lakers. He is an athletic big with good size and a game that took a huge step forward this year.
I hadn't paid very much attention to Plumlee's free-throw stroke before, but that was the thing that stuck out to me most in Duke's public practice. He has a weird hitch before his release, and I'm surprised he's even a 67 percent free-throw shooter.
Unlike Georgetown, Duke managed to win their second round game against Albany so I got two looks at him.
Plumlee was too big and strong for the Great Danes to handle, and he finished with 23 points and eight rebounds, missing just two of his 11 shot attempts. However, I didn't feel like he was as dominant as his numbers would lead you to believe. Plumlee did show a nice sky-hook, and he threw down a couple impressive alley-oops (they threw him a third but the ball was over the cylinder when he grabbed it). However, he struggled with the Danes doubling him in the post in the first half and ended up with four turnovers. A lot of his baskets were also due more to his guards penetrating and collapsing the defense than anything he did. He just had to wait under the basket for the pass and finish.
In the second game against Creighton, Plumlee was pretty much a nonfactor as he was neutralized by Gregory Echenique. Plumlee finished with a pedestrian 10 points and five rebounds, while dealing with foul trouble all game. Plumlee only took seven shots, largely due to Echenique's defense. Plumlee simply could not move Echenique and get the post position he wanted, and he didn't even try all that hard. As Creighton head coach Greg McDermott put it, "I didn't think Plumlee wanted any part of Gregory down there." Echenique is about as strong as any player in college basketball, but Plumlee's inability to assert himself against good defense is troubling.
Plumlee does appear to have decent handles and is a pretty good passer for a big man, which is a plus. There was one play against Albany where Plumlee went to work posting up, drew a double-team and threw a pretty behind-the-head pass to his wide open teammate near the basket, who unfortunately missed and cost him the assist.
Overall, Plumlee is a solid player. He's a great athlete who can finish around the basket and rebound at a high rate. However, while his back-to-the-basket game has drastically improved, I don't believe he's going to be a consistent go-to option in the post in at the NBA level. He's a role player, and I don't think he will ever be much more than a decent starter. I think he's comparable to players like Kris Humphries, Meyers Leonard and Jason Thompson.
Final Thoughts: If the Suns get the Lakers' pick (likely No. 14), Plumlee is one of the players worth considering, particularly if they choose a wing with their own pick. However, if a player with more upside is available I'd have no problem passing on him.